Allegations vs Taiwanese investor no bearing – PEZA
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) yesterday said there is no stopping in the processing of the application of First Pangasinan Industrial Corp. (FPIC) despite Taiwan’s allegation that the proponent of the proposed $360 billion project is a “fugitive” and an “economic criminal” for alleged embezzlement of funds.
In a press conference, PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza stressed there is “no bearing” the allegations hurled by the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO), the de facto Taiwan embassy in Manila. The Philippines, which is aligned with the One-China policy, does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but economic relations of both economies are represented by the TECO and the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO).
According to Plaza, PEZA has pre-qualified on August 24, 2017 the FPIC, developer of the 3,000 proposed Philippine Chinese Industrial Economic Zone in Dasol, Pangasinan.
“The pre-qualification stays, there is no stopping in the processing of the FPIC,” Plaza said. During this pre-qualification stage, Plaza said FPIC, which is 60 percent owned by a Filipino group (which has yet to be identified) and 40 percent Singaporean-Taiwanese group, will have to submit other documents such as the description of the land, which the group is still consolidating; environmental clearance, among others.
Normally, it takes 10 to 12 months for an applicant to complete all the PEZA requirements. Once these are all done, PEZA will endorse the application to Malacanang for the issuance of a Presidential Proclamation creating the special economic zone. Only after the Presidential Proclamation has been issued that the investor can start with the project implementation.
Plaza also clarified that the pre-qualification clearance does not include the proposed 85-story IT building along Roxas Boulevard with P12 billion investments to be undertaken by the same group’s subsidiary Unilink Land Properties Inc.
Responding to the derogatory statement issued by TECO against Xianglu Dragon Group (XDG) Chairman You Hao Chen, Plaza read a long statement detailing the circumstances of the project and the PEZA processes, including the conduct of a due diligence study of project proponent that even brought Plaza and other PEZA officials to Chen’s manufacturing facilities in Xiamen, China.
Apparently, PEZA did not see anything wrong with the huge project proposal and even submitted a comprehensive report to President Duterte, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Plaza also urged other members of the Board such as DTI, which chairs PEZA; the National Economic and Development Authority; Department of Finance; Department of Science and Technology; and Department of Labor and Employment to conduct their own due diligence on the proposed investment.
Based on the long standing practice of PEZA in evaluating their project proponents, “We give the proponent the benefit of the doubt and we want to extend the same to FPIC.”
During their meeting on July 5, 2017 brokered by former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, several leaders including Herminigildo Mandanas of Batangas, Ambassador Francis Chua and the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, all of them vouched for Chen’s integrity.
Mandanas knew Chen for the past 30 years already and has been aware of the political prosecution faced by the billionaire in Taiwan, said Plaza.
Chen, Plaza said, also disclosed of his personal issues with the Taiwanese government and made clear he is not a Taiwanese citizen, making it impossible for the TECO request for the Philippines to extradite Chen to Taiwan.
“If indeed, there are cases being faced by XDG and Chen, the Taiwanese authorities should bring it direct to the government of the People’s Republic of China and resolve it among themselves. That is our position as far as PEZA is concerned,” she added.
According to Plaza, Chen is already 79 years old and just wants to leave a legacy that he was gathering state-owned enterprises and businesses to invest in the FPIC ecozone.
Despite the grant of prequalification to FPIC, Plaza said they will continue to be vigilant but stressed they don’t want to be swayed by bias opinion otherwise PEZA becomes bias itself based on allegation by a single party.
She added that PEZA cannot pre-judge the concerned party stressing “We feel that is not the proper way to treat investors who intend to bring in massive investments.” She added that Chen is still highly regarded by other countries such as Japan, the US and Thailand where he has huge investments.
Plaza also clarified that Chen’s role in the proposed $360 billion investments to be poured over a period of 30 years is just as a mere coordinator. But she also said that Chen will be a locator in the first phase of the five-phase 3,000-hectare Philippine Chinese Industrial Economic Zone. The first phase of FPIC is a 400-hectare petrochemical zone. (BCM)